We are thrilled to announce that Laeïla Adjovi, a Beninese-French storyteller and researcher, has joined G.A.S. Foundation for a residency in Lagos, Nigeria, starting on the 5th of April 2023 until the 3rd of May 2023. Laeïla is a storyteller, photographer, visual artist, and researcher whose work focuses on cultural hybridity, multi-layered identities, visible and invisible borders, and African cultural heritage.
The duration of her residency will be used to research Yemoja rites and Yoruba oral literature, connect with relevant cultural practitioners, and visit iconic homesteads of Yoruba culture, such as Abeokuta, Ife and Osogbo.
What is the current focus of your creative practice?
I have been working on a transdisciplinary project The Roads of Yemoja that examines how a West African deity (Yemoja, called Yemaya or Aflekete in Cuba) survived the horrors of the middle passage and attempts at cultural annihilation to become venerated on both sides of the Atlantic.
Omi Soore Fun mi © Laeïla Adjovi
What drew you to apply for this residency and how do you think it will inform your wider practice?
I was drawn to apply for this residency as it will allow me to delve back into my field research, practice Yoruba, expand my research on Yoruba mythology and oral literature, and work toward documentation/inputs on the craftsmanship of Adire (indigo dyeing) as part of a budding visual project mixing dyeing and ancient processing techniques of analogue photography. I believe this residency will provide me with the perfect base to travel back to Ibadan, Abeokuta, and Ife to collect more interviews, chanting, and analogue photographs with Yemoja worshippers.
Orisha Nla © Laeïla Adjovi
Can you give us an insight into how you hope to use the opportunity?
During this residency, I hope to use the opportunity to gather interviews and photography, draw maps, and write fiction while researching Yemoja rites and Yoruba oral literature. I also hope that the residency will connect me with resource persons and provide a quiet and healthy environment to produce new work, and process information from her research.
Malaïka Dotou Sankofa #3bis, 2017 (from the series Malaïka Dotou Sankofa), showing at A New Humanity, 13th Dak’Art Biennale, curated by Simon Njami. Photo credit: The Sole Adventurer.
ABOUT LAEÏLA ADJOVI
Laeïla Adjovi is a Beninese-French multidisciplinary artist based in Dakar, Senegal. Her work has been exhibited in Senegal, Ethiopia, Morocco, Benin, France, South Africa, the UK, the US, and Cuba. In 2018, she was the recipient of the Leopold Sedar prize for her poem and photographic series Malaïka Dotou Sankofa, done in collaboration with French photographer Loïc Hoquet. In 2019, thanks to an artistic residency in Benin with the Zinsou Foundation, she started her ongoing project The Roads of Yemoja about African spirituality in Nigeria, Benin, and Cuba. In 2020, she received a grant from the Musagetes Foundation to pursue this work, and in 2021, she started a PhD titled: The Roads of Yemoja. Nomad spirituality, oral transmission, and cultural resistance.